Must Read Monday: The Smart One

It’s amazing that I even read today’s featured novel written by Jennifer Close. After a reading Girls in White Dresses {her novel that only becomes more and more disappointing as you turn the pages}, I never thought that I would pick up another Jennifer Close novel again. The Smart One was suggested by so many of my friends that I bit the bullet and downloaded it to my Nook. Honestly, I was so surprised by how much I loved this book that I couldn’t wait to share it for this week’s “Must Read Monday.”

A synopsis from the author:

Weezy and Will Coffey raised their children, Martha, Claire, and Max, to be kind, smart, and independent. They gave them help with their homework, a dog, and homemade birthday cakes. It’s true that Martha’s a little too sensitive–she calls Claire several times a week to discuss natural disasters and local crime. And Claire has a short fuse with her sister–she becomes irate when Martha suggests that the two of them attend couples therapy. And Max, the baby and a senior in college, is a little too happy-go-lucky, though not as lucky as everyone would hope. Still, their parents did their best preparing them for the world. So why, Weezy wonders, is Martha living in her childhood bedroom after a career flameout? And why has Claire canceled her wedding and locked herself in her New York apartment? And how has Max managed to get himself into a girlfriend fiasco? A story about the ways in which we never really grow up, The Smart One is a witty, gossipy, perfectly-drawn portrait of family life.

To read more on The Smart One or download it, please click here!

Happy Reading!

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Fab Find: Loren Hope

I am a sucker for statement jewelry – always have been, always will. What better way to space up a simple outfit then colorful earrings or a chunky necklace?! Loren Hope is a fabulous jewelry designer that focuses on upscale, contemporary, handcrafted gems that everyone would adore. Not only her her hand selected stones absolutely breathtaking, but they’re made right here in the great U-S of A!

LOREN’S INSPIRATION
“Jewelry design has always found a way into my life. One of my fondest memories as a little girl is playing in my Grandmother’s thrift shop. She would let me plunder around for hours and I would take apart all sorts of old jewelry and re-assemble the baubles into new works of art.

I am also a huge fan of vintage jewelry. I have always been intrigued with antiques and relics from our past – the colors, craftsmanship, quality and attention to detail in vintage jewelry are constant inspirations for me.”

Swooning over Loren Hope’s collection already?! Who can blame you?! Here are a few of my favorite staple pieces from her line. {Warning: your plastic may be at risk!}

Browse here to be taken to Loren Hope’s website and happy shopping!

A Kentucky Derby Celebration

All Southern ladies know the best part of Spring (besides the warmer weather!) is heading to the horse races! Whether it’s the Carolina Cup, Kentucky Derby or the Foxfield Races – who doesn’t love an excuse to purchase a new Lilly dress and show-stopping hat??

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If you’re like me this year, the only race you’ll see is the Derby on television, but why let that stop you from partaking in the festivities. Hosting a Derby party is a great way to bring your best gals together, put on your Sunday best and  indulge in one to many Mint Juleps!

Here’s a few simple ways to celebrate the Derby:

  • Send the Invites. The best way to set the tone for your Derby party is through the invitations. Whether your theme is a “Run for the Roses” or “Down and Derby,” you’ll want to set the stage for your guests from atmosphere to attire. Honestly – it’s better to be upfront with your guests so they know if they should put their drinking cap on or remain poised to perfection. {Remember the Kentucky Derby is May 3!}
  • Set the Dress Code. Okay, let me be frank – if you aren’t prepared for your backyard or home to be full of seersucker and pastels, then don’t throw a party themed around a horse race. It’s all about the bow ties, dress blazers, Lilly dresses, and big hats! Be sure to include this fine print on your invites to bypass any confusion.
  • Crafting the Perfect Mint Julep. If bar-tending isn’t your forte, find a friend who can craft the perfect mint julep! Southern Living has the perfect recipe (in my opinion) to making this must-have cocktail. To view this recipe, browse here!
  • Taking Bets. Because who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? Create a pool and have your guests bet on their favorite horse – even if it’s chosen because of the horse’s unique name! Remember, it doesn’t have to be pricey but if it does, oh well 🙂
  • Quick Bites. I was brought up with the hostess mentality that no Southern gathering is complete without pimento cheese or cheese straws! Make (or order!) both or only one – you can’t go wrong either way. Some of my other favorite quick bits are single servings of Shrimp and Grits, Petite Fried Chicken and Waffles, and Mini Kentucky Hot Browns! {Click on the quick bits to be linked to the recipe!}
  • Décor. Whatever your theme maybe let the décor do the talking. Keep it simple with red roses and mini trophys or go all out with DIY crafts to personalize your decorations. Don’t forget – taking the party outside for lawn games is always a fun option, horseshoes anyone?

Happy Planning!

Must Read Monday: Fifty Shades Trilogy

For starters, yes I did read “them.” In fact, I read each book front to back; and honestly, I would read it again! Before you jump to conclusions, please listen to what I have to say about the Fifty Shades Trilogy. I love these books as a whole. Sure, as a Southern Baptist, the first book was painful (pun intended) to get through. However, as I kept reading a storyline developed and the plot thickened throughout each book. The  more I read, the more I became invested.

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If you’re a follower of my Must Read Mondays then you know I am a sucker for books that become movies. The Fifty Shades Trilogy is set to begin its debut February 2015 and I cannot wait! The romance, mystery, darkness and suspension drives this series to the successful story it is today. If you haven’t started reading these novels yet I highly suggest you do so. Enjoy 🙂

Spring To Do’s By The Glitter Guide

As I am sure you are well aware of, yesterday was the first day of Spring – Hooray! In light of this joyous occasion I couldn’t help but share The Glitter Guide’s Spring To-Do List. I stumbled upon this yesterday when I was trying to find a little Spring inspiration for myself and I couldn’t wait to share this treasure with you.

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While “sparkle every day” and “plan a picnic with girlfriends” are probably two of my favorite “to do’s” on Glitter Guide’s list, I absolutely plan to do all of these wonderful suggestions!
I sincerely hope that you’ll join me!

The Quarter Life Crisis

I am 24-years-old, in my “prime” as some would say. In less than three months, I will be graduating with my master’s degree and the world is my oyster. I could take a job hundreds of miles away, I could start my own company, I could travel the world…the options are limitless. Many people, around my age, are consumed with the hustle and bustle of life, trying to aspire to be the best person they can ultimately be. But, when do we become so consumed to “what could be” that feel overwhelmed and gravitate toward things that will bring us the most security and comfort? This is the idea of having a quarter life crisis.

It’s always been my personal goal to achieve big dreams and not settle for less. Now, the opportunity to do those things is knocking on my door and I am at a cross road. Everyday I wonder if I should take a big job in the city or move back to my hometown and wait for my significant other to return from the military. There are so many positivities and negatives to each that it has driven me to insanity! I just want someone  to say this is what you need to do and you will achieve goal A, B, and C. In reality, I know it isn’t that easy and will never be, but boy do I wish it was!

A quarter life crisis is not the end all – be all existance to our very being. It’s a fact that no one wants to make a wrong decision or take the wrong opportunity and simply settle for a life of “what ifs’.” Overcoming the quarter life crisis is a leap of faith; like turning in that final exam or getting over a bad breakup or even dealing with grief. We all go through it and I believe there are two things you can do to take this crisis by the horns: encourage and inspire.

To encourage others you’re helping others to take the plunge and accept that big job in Atlanta or  start up their own consulting firm. In essence, you are encouraging them to not be scared to take a chance and that settling for status quo just isn’t acceptable. Knowing that being a hypocrite simply isn’t suitable, this has encouraged me to do the same. Be encouraged, be vulnerable and know that it’s okay to not have it all together.

To inspire we can drive a sense of motivational success in ourselves and others. Whether you choose to be a leader or follower, inspiration comes from so many angles that we just have to open our eyes to all that life has to offer. By not letting the idea of a quarter life crisis consume you, you’ll be able to make decisions based on what you want and be the inspiration for others as well. Take a step back from the big picture mentality and look at each puzzle piece in front of you.

Life is full of twists, turns, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and dreams. There’s no such thing as perfect timing and you’ll never know if something if worth it unless you do it. We hold the ability to encourage and inspire ourselves by being living testimonies.

Must Read Monday: Home Front

If you know anything about deployment then you understand the toll it not only takes on the person who served, but the loved ones of that person. In her book Home Front, Kristin Hannah gives the emotionally powerful story of Michael and Jolene. Trying to balance the life as a mother and the role as wife of a district attorney, Jolene is also facing the reality of her upcoming deployment. As Jolene sends letters to her family from the front lines, she sugar coats every horrible moments that is exploding around her. When tragedy strikes, Michael is facing is on battle on the home front and has to do it all alone.

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It’s books like these make me make so proud of the sacrifice our men and women in uniform make every day. This is truly a beautiful book and brings the realities of war to those of us who do not live the military life on a daily basis. Browse here read more on Home Front!

A Hawaiian Escape

Smitten, overjoyed, ecstatic, head-over-heels, thrilled – are just some of the words that come to mind, when I think about my upcoming trip to Hawaii!

One of the perks of my love being in the military is that he is stationed in one of the most beautiful islands on Earth! Now that the very last detail of my trip is booked, my mind is completely consumed about being there with him and enjoying everything that Hawaii has to offer. I am lucky that this will be my second trip and I am counting down the days (105 days left!). I couldn’t help but share a few of my favorite moments from last year’s trip and I know you’ll be swooning over them as much as I do! Enjoy!!

Fab Find: LiketoKnow:It

I’m sure many of you are confused where I am going with the title of today’s post. But, you know that moment where you feel like you’ve struck gold discovering a new, savvy website?! Well that is exactly what I am feeling right now. The website, LIKEtoKnow:IT lets you shop all of your favorite Instagram fashions on one location!

All you need to do is sign-in (or create a profile) on their website, follow their Instagram profile, and search using “#liketkit” to discover the true fashionistas of Instagram! By “liking” a photo on Instagram it saves to your LiketoKnow:It profile and you can shop from your “like feed!” I have found so many amazing outfits from this website and it is one of my absolute favorite fab finds to date! You can thank me later 🙂

Happy Shopping!

Must Read Monday: The Help

Just when I thought that pretty much everyone has seen or at least read the book The Help, I proved myself wrong! I couldn’t believe how many how many people hadn’t pick up this amazing book yet, and shame on you if you haven’t! This novel, written by Kathry Stocket, is powerful, passionate, and will make you feel proud of how far America has come.

It was 1962 in the deep South of Mississippi, when “Skeeter,” a 22-year-old journalist [hopeful] travels back to her roots after getting her college degree. With her mother constantly trying to marry her away and all of the Junior League gossip, Skeeter was ready to leave home as quickly as she arrived. Once she gets her big chance to take a job in the big apple, Skeeter must craft a story to show off her talent and prove that she is an exceptional writer.

What she uncovers, is beyond her belief. Skeeter always knew that “the help” or servants of Southern homes were never treated fairly, but she never truly understood the real extent. Standing up for what she believes in despite her mother, the town and new lover; Skeeter finds her own new found freedom.

Happy Reading!